THE federal government is determined to empower Nigerian youths because the important role they play in economic development. Already it had launched the youth entrepreneurship strategy in the oil and gas industry and has commenced the screening of those who will participate in the entrepreneurship training programme. Part of the N220 billion set aside for Micro Small Medium Enterprises, MSME, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, will be used to fund the youth entrepreneurship strategy.
Addressing the youths at the launch organised by Anabel Leadership Academy, Olusegun Aganga, minister of industry, trade and investment, explained that Nigerian youths form a very substantial segment of the population; hence they must be empowered to stem the tide of unemployment, poverty, hunger and squalor. He said the federal government had created a window of opportunities through legislation, urging the youths to take advantage of the opportunities. “Apart from empowerment through entrepreneurship training and certification, you must take advantage of the power reform and industrialisation. These are windows of opportunities. The greatest asset you have now is your brain and that is where the future is,” he said.
According to Aganga, the power of the youth in economic development is very important today so any country that does not tap the potential of the youths cannot compete globally. “It is important we re-invent ourselves and position our economy for industrialisation and entrepreneurship.”
Nicholas Okoye, chief executive officer, Anabel Leadership Academy, explained that as a response to the federal government’s efforts at creating a window of opportunities for the youths to become employers of labour, there must be a network of young Nigerians that would take over. Okoye, the conveyer of the launch explained that the empowerment programme would be executed through the Nigerian content fund set aside to build capacity.
According to him, Anabel’s role in the initiative is that of facilitator by exposing the prospective young entrepreneurs to an array of skills that would prepare them to realise their dreams. “Under the programme, young registered entrepreneurs would be equipped with training and funding to participate in the oil and gas sector to create jobs, remain sustainable and expand globally. This implies that Anabel has a very fundamental role to play in this process because training and certification must be accomplished before the issue of funding by the government or direct job with the organised private sector could follow,” Okoye said.
LCCI Decries Overlapping Duties of Regulatory Agencies
THE Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, is concerned about the persistent and increasing overlapping functions of regulatory agencies which hinder investments in the country. Remi Bello, president, LCCI, said the chamber in recent months, had received increasing complaints from companies bordering on regulations, monitoring and compliance.
The LCCI boss during a dialogue session between regulators and stakeholders in the industrial sector stated that the chamber conducted an in-depth survey on the activities and impact of some regulatory agencies and discovered that many businesses have issues with aspects of regulatory activities. “There is the burden of regulatory overlap between National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, on the private sector which adversely impacts on investments,” he said.
Bello stated that numerous charges and fees imposed by the two agencies such as environmental development charge; chemical storage permit; laboratory analysis and the other charges have compelled companies to use the associates of both agencies’ officials for the assessment and audit report at ridiculous prices. Other issues, according to him, include closure of factories and business premise without cogent reasons; high frequency of factory inspections with attendant official and unofficial charges, waste of management time and large range of duplicated and overlaps in the functions of NESREA and LASEPA.
He noted that there are also overlapping activities of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in sectors such as cosmetics, food, drinks, beverage, health and confectionary, stating that other issues include delay and high cost of registration and certification of products, frequency of visits that come with costs to the companies and collection of excessive quantity of products supposedly as samples. “In view of the threats posed by these challenges to the survival of companies, I implore the regulatory agencies to kindly reflect on the issues and consider our prayers as will be articulated during this interactive session,” he said.
Bello pointed out that the real sector and Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, are critical to national economic development especially in the area of job creation and poverty alleviation, stressing that since the government could generate the quantum of jobs needed to gainfully engage the teeming unemployed youths, the private sector and especially the SMEs should be empowered and supported. “Today, our members and industry operators have the opportunity to listen to the leadership of the agencies and also interact with them on regulatory issues that creates negative impacts on businesses. We see ourselves as partners with regulators in creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The regulatory environment is crucial to the operations, viability and profitability of businesses in Nigeria.”
— Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT